Act 1: Beware the Ides of March
Several days after the completion of their last case, the members of the Vatican City SAVE Office find themselves back to a somewhat normal day. It was march 15, 1936- The Ides of March.
A national Holiday, Il Duce’s recognized birthday, has allowed Liberty to take the day off, allowing her a bit of much needed leisure. With classes closed for the day Oliver and Lodewijk also have an uncomplicated day. Oliver spends his morning in one of the many gardens on the Vatican Grounds, While Lodewijk manages to make himself a delightful breakfast free from bother. Gerard, having purchased a trained falcon, traveled outside the city to become more familiar with his newly acquired feathered friend. Sven found himself at the Grace and Mercy Hospital, where his wife, Brigit Thofelt had just been released from care. Agostino worked in his lab, Father Fletcher conducted mass, and only Tomas was working at the office.
But little did they all know that this seemingly innocent day would transform into a dangerous and somewhat complicated start of an investigation into a missing American tourist family.
Act 2: The Raving Sister
Tomas, at the office, was assigned by the captain to handle a woman who claimed to be the sister of a missing American tourist. The woman, Sandra Westmoreland, was an American divorcee who had traveled to Rome after her sister and her sister’s family had mysteriously disappeared. The woman claimed that they had disappeared while touring the Vatican and claimed she had proof. She had been harassing the Papal guard for the last four days into finding her sister and had been reassured that a thorough search had been conducted on the grounds of the Vatican and that no missing woman, her family or their bodies had been found. With no evidence, and with claims from the woman bordering n conspiracy, the papal guard dismissed her claims. finally fed up with the constant irritation the woman caused, Captain Antorinno Descortes asked Tomas to speak with her, conduct a very basic investigation and assuage any concerns she had. While a thankless task, the captain hoped that Tomas’ rank as detective would be enough to dissuade the woman from continuing to badger the Papal guard.
Tomas interviewed to woman, gathering a few details, a very flimsy proof that the woman may, in fact missing, and acquired a photo of the woman. Her name was given as Doreen Stone. She was reported to be traveling with her husband David Stone and their son Inoch Stone. They were supposed by the concerned sister to have disappeared during a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. The tour was conducted by Davio Torento.
After the interview, one of the Papal guard advised Tomas that a raving mad American woman was taken into custody after screaming about “killing her husband.” This woman could not be calmed and a detailed search was conducted with no evidence of foul play discovered. The woman had claimed to be in the catacombs beneath Saint Peter’s, which could not be substantiated.
With her mental state in question, the woman was transported to the Grace and Mercy Hospital Psychiatric ward for evaluation. The woman’s identity could not be determined, as she had no identification, nor was able to give her name when asked due to her ravings.
Thinking that perhaps there may actually be something happening, Tomas determined to look into it. He traveled to the Vatican archives where he spoke to one of the arresting guardsmen, and then even more concerned traveled to the Library of Esoteric Studies to find someone to accompany him to the hospital in case there was a supernatural threat.
Act 3: Grace and Mercy Hospital
Tomas and Lodewijk traveled to the hospital for the purpose of determining the identity of the woman sent there from the Vatican. on the way, they encountered Sven and Brigit Thofelt, who were just leaving the hospital after Brigit’s release.
Concerned that there may be a possible case, Sven, joined his fellow Envoys, and Brigit, enticed by the possibility of participating in a police investigation, proved to be helpful in making connections to key staff at the hospital, and allowing the group to gain access to restricted areas.
The group discovered that the mysterious woman had effected “self-release” from the hospital only two days before. She had apparently shattered her room window and jumped three floors to the ground below and escaped on foot. This behaviors was difficult to believe that it could be accomplished by a normal woman, further making the envoys suspicious of the situation.
With Brigit’s help the group met the mystery woman’s psychiatrist. Brigit managed to get a copy of the file from him and Tomas finally revealed the woman’s name to the Hospital as Doreen Stone.
The four determined to go to the Library to “discuss the case”, although initially Brigit was not supposed to be involved in the investigation.
Act 4: Joining SAVE
On the drive back to the library, Brigit began to question Sven about his involvement with SAVE. Explaining that she was attacked by a “deformed hunchback man, that growled” in an alley on the way home from Oliver’s apartment. She also explained that there was another man there, directing the attack. That man told her that the reason she was being hurt was “because your husband took something that belongs to me and refused to return it.” She was also told that it was “Sven’s association with SAVE” that was “the cause of her pain and that she should ask him about SAVE.”
Brigit used the opportunity in the car to question her husband about SAVE and the attack, and despite his attempts to keep the information secret, his wife realized that her husband was lying. She demanded that she be allowed to join, despite not knowing exactly what it was she was joining. Having technically met the criteria for membership, Sven agreed to put it before the group.
Upon their arrival at the club, a brief discussion was had and father Fletcher agreed that she technically qualified for membership and reluctantly agreed to make her a member of the Vatican City Office.
Act 5: Starting the Investigation
In agreement that there was an investigation possibility with the disappearance, the group determined to split into teams and attempt to gather additional information. Lodewijk and Tomas would return to the Hospital to take possession of a locket that belonged to Doreen Stone that had been located by the nurse there. Father Fletcher would speak to Father Stefan Morale, who was responsible for the maintenance of the crypts beneath the Vatican to see if there had been anything out of the ordinary. Gerard, Liberty and Brigit would visit Sandra Westmoreland at the Hotel Gambrinus in an attempt to gather additional information on the Stones. Oliver and Sven would meet with the Tour guide Davio Torento to determine involvement. Agostino would look into the history of the crypts to see of there was anything unusual there. pouring over old maps and overseeing a list of those buried under Saint Peter’s.
Act 6: The Interview
The interview with Sandra at the hotel was of questionable value. The group learned that her “timeline” of events didn’t quite add up, leading Brigit to postulate that she was the mistress to Mister Stone. Brigit managed to acquire a copy of the room’s phone calls and expenses, which proved less useful than desired. A pair of opera Tickets and a traveler’s check were also acquired, but led to no additional information.
However, some information was confirmed, and the suspected moment of disappearance was determined in the discussion. In the end, the interview raised more questions than it answered.
Act 7: The Missing Mother
As Tomas and Lodewijk were collecting the newly located locket that had belonged to Doreen Stone from the hospital, Lodewijk suddenly perked up and began walking down a hallway towards a room in the psychiatric ward,
The door to the room was open and a woman sat on the bed there singing a dutch lullaby. This is the same lullaby that Lodewijk’s mother sang to him as a child.
Lodewijk, aware that the lullaby was unique to his family, instinctively understood that the woman somehow was connected to him, but was amazed to find that she was in fact, his mother, presumed dead. Heidi Van Der Hoof had been in the hospital there in Rome for nearly a year. According to the doctors there, she suffered from acute amnesia. She had been found washed up on a beach, unable to recall any details of her past. With the hospital in Rome possessing the world’s leading experts in amnesia, she had been sent there for study and help.
The only thing she seemed to remember from her prior life was the lullaby that she kept singing. Lodewijk happened to hear the song and curious to its origins had discovered his mother there.
Though she did not remember him or anything about her family, or life prior to being found, Lodewijk was certain that she was, in fact his mother. He left her at the hospital, determined to acquire a proper home to bring her home and aid her in recovering her memories.
Act 8: Arranging the Tour
Meanwhile, Sven and Oliver arrived at the tourism office in the Vatican and were determined to talk with the tour guide. However, discovering that he was on his last tour of the day, Sven decided to book a “private” tour for the group by making a significant contribution to the Art Conservation fund at the Vatican. A tour was arranged at 6:00 pm that afternoon.
Act 9: The Tour and Attack
The entire office attended the tour. The tour guide retraced the route that he took every single tour, highlighting all the same areas and providing the same information. The normal tour ended and the special tour began.
This additional stop turned out to be the holy father’s private garden. The guide had managed to arrange it so that the group was able to see a portion of the Garden normally off-limits to the public. After a very brief and incomplete history and description of the garden, the group was encouraged to enjoy the garden for themselves.
Their enjoyment was short lived however, when a group of three individuals appeared at one f the gates. The center most individual directed the group to turn over the woman, pointing at liberty, and they would be unharmed. He then ordered his two associates to “bring the woman unharmed and kill the others.”
This began a desperate conflict, as these individuals raised Thompson .45 caliber Sub-machine guns and opened fire on the group. Agostino was hit in the opening burst, but was not killed. Return fire led to the discovery that the gun wielding individuals were, in fact, Flesh Constructs.
As the Envoys reacted, additional Flesh constructs arrived, bringing the total to eight. Bullets and swords seemed to do minimal damage to the creatures. Attempted to attack the leader proved fruitless as he was protected by some sort of ballistic shield similar to a protective sphere. Unable to pursue him, the group was forced to fight for their lives against the constructs.
Davio, the tour guide, angered by the garden’s defamation tacked one of the gunmen, although he did not understand tat the time that the creatures were not human.
Sven utilized his feat of Strength to slam the constructs into the stone wall surrounding the garden, destroying them. Lodewijk quickly realized that his powerful boxing strikes were also effective weapons against the constructs.
Father Fletcher used a Protective Shield to protect members of the group from incoming bullets, keeping the injuries down, while members of the group were able to return fire against the constructs with minimal effectiveness.
Lodewijk discovered that one of the constructs bore a dynamite explosive charge in its torso. The device exploded, knocking both Sven and Lodewijk down, but dealing minimal damage thanks to chance. Davio was knocked out by the concussion, but otherwise was unharmed.
Oliver rushed into combat using his talons, ripping the leg from one of the remaining constructs. In a moment of terrible revelation, the creature reached up to it’s face, previously hidden by it’s ragged cloak to reveal to grenade pins in its eye sockets. It pulled both pins, and exploded. The remaining constructs repeated the acts, devastating a portion of the garden even further. The Envoys, however were protected by Fletcher’s shield against debris and damage.
Shaken, the group returned to the Library to mull over this new discovery and to plan.
Act 10: Attack at the Library
Later that night, Lodewijk Oliver, Gerard, Agostino, and Liberty stayed at the Library. With concerns that the cult may make another attempt to grab Liberty, those members remained at the Library in case it happened.
Their concerns were well founded, as Liberty and Oliver, heard the sound of breaking glass from upstairs. concerned that something had broken into the library, they followed the sound upstairs to Agostino’s room, where they found a strange woman standing over a sleeping Agostino. The apparent course of the breaking glass was a broken glass water pitcher knocked from the bedside table.
Uncertain exactly what was happening, Oliver and Liberty ushered the woman out of the room and down stairs. A few oddly answered questions led liberty to head upstairs to awaken Lodewijk, Agostino and Gerard in case there were difficulties with the woman.
Things weren’t simple, however. The woman now revealed herself to be the missing Doreen Stone. furthermore, it was determined that she was not exactly as she appeared. Using some unidentified Evil Way ability, she created a willpower siphon between herself and Oliver.
Even as Liberty was arousing the other two members of the group, Doreen was draining Oliver’s willpower to the point that he fell into a deep sleep. As the other emerged onto the upstairs level, it became immediately apparent that something was terribly wrong.
Seizing the initiative, Doreen grabbed up Oliver with ease and threw him upstairs, slamming him into Lodewijk. Gerard responded rapidly, using his dart gun to fire at her. She watched the drugged dart directly from the air, displaying not only extreme strength, but also exceptional agility.
She then left up on to the upper landing where she threatened to grab Liberty. Liberty recoiled, and in a moment of desperation used her Psychic Sphere to assist in neutralizing the woman abilities.
Unexpectedly, Doreen’s appearance transformed into a Shimian Gorefiend. Lodewijk attacked her with a sonic attack, raising her ire. the creature’s horrible appearance temporarily struck fear into Gerard, who temporarily retreated to the end of the landing, as far as possible from the creature.
The creature grabbed Lodewijk and threw him across the library, causing him significant injury. Agostino, however drove his sword through the creature’s torso.
The creature recoiled in agony, grabbed the sword and threw it at it’s attacker. Agostino dodged the blade, which buried itself to the hilt in the stone wall of the library.
Liberty meanwhile retreated downstairs where she yelled for Luca. The guardian had been awakened by the noise upstairs and was just exiting his room when liberty advised him of the situation. Grabbing his crossbow, he directed her to hide in this chambers inside his circle of power, while he went to confront the creature.
He emerged from the downstairs to take in the scene. There he saw a woman, fighting the envoys with little difficulty. The creature has reassumed the appearance of Doreen Stone once Liberty’s interfering Psychic Sphere was not longer in play.
Using his crossbow, Luca fired two bolts into the creature. these dealt enough damage to destroy it. The creature lost it’s illusionary appearance and dissolved into a pile of ash.
Luca immediately knew what creature they were dealing with.
Inspection of the ash pile revealed the presence of a charm which had allowed the creature to gain access to the library past the wards. this concerned Luca considerably.
Act 11: The Bug Hunt
Luca administered his Convalescent Tea Blend to everyone who had been involved in the attack at the library and went on vigil to maintain a protected watch of the building as the envoys recovered.
The following morning, when all the remaining members of the office had returned, a discussion and plan of action was put together to handle the creature once and for all.
With Luca’s knowledge of the creature, the materials needed to put an end to the creatures. He gave the envoys the information on how to locate and destroy the Shimian’s skulls and by extension the Shimian itself. Knowing that the creature was most likely hiding in the crypts beneath the city, the group decided to begin their hunt there. Knowing that the crypts were labyrinthine, and that the group would require light, a plan was put together that would allow Oliver to lead the group and still take advantage of his excellent night vision.
Act 12: Into the Crypts
When night fell, the group made their way secretly to the locked gate leading into the crypt beneath Saint Peter’s Basilica. Father Fletcher used Oliver’s crowbar to snap the lock on the chain and the group made their way into the crypt.
The group had been in the crypt for nearly an hour, when a partial collapse of a portion of the floor separated Oliver from the remainder of the group. He found himself alone and the group was unable to climb down to reach him.
Seeing that there were two entryways into the room that Oliver had fallen into, the remainder of the group decided to split into two teams to make their way down to the room that Oliver had fallen into.
Oliver, however, did not stay put for long. After the remainder of the group had moved on, searching for a path down to him, Oliver heard something close by. Curious to get to the bottom of the situation, he moved towards the sound.
Act 13: Reunion
What he found was not what was expected. in a nearby area, he discovered a full-blown archeological dig taking place within the deeper levels of the crypts deep beneath the Vatican. The dig was under the administration of an old colleague, Josef Vestand.
The two met briefly where Oliver discovered that Josef was searching for an artifact known as the Gralis Eternatus, an item that was of significant interest to Cyprus Archer. It seemed to be the same artifact that Archer had attempted to hire Oliver to recover for him prior.
Josef had, oddly enough, found a very recent looking skull during his work. This skull was one of those in use by the Shimian Gorefiend. He also stated that he had seen two other, similar skulls. With a few short questions, Josef told Oliver where they could be located.
Satisfied, Oliver returned to the room where he had fallen through the ceiling and awaited the other Envoys.
Act 14: Recovering the Skulls
The other envoys finally reached Oliver’s location without any difficulty. The group then, using Oliver’s newfound information, began to collect the remaining skulls. The group located a second skull without difficulty. The third was located, placed upon what appeared to be an altar of some sort.
Act 15: The Final Skull
The Third Skull was located in a chamber that appeared to be placed upon an altar. The entry to the room was warded with Electrical Sigils. Luca removed his shirt and using his thaumaturgy, he disabled the Sigils by completely absorbing their discharge.
A general battle ensued, the Cultist retreating to a smaller adjacent room to remain safe from attack. As the group combatted the Flesh Constructs, the Shimian appeared and attacked the group as well. Now fighting on two fronts, the Envoys found themselves in a desperate struggle for survival.
The Shimian was defeated, but soon reappeared as healthy and vicious as ever. One of the Flesh constructs was armed with an explosive, which, although it detonated, seemed ineffective against the Envoys.
A Second Shimian appeared now, drawn by the apparent danger to it’s existence. As things became more critical for the envoys, this additional combatant joining seemed to be almost more than could be endured.
However, the tide turned, and the last of the Flesh constructs were defeated. The Cultist, an accomplished thaumaturge, joined the fight, continuing to press the Envoys as they were forced to split their efforts between the Shimians and his own attacks.
Act 16: Resolution
Desperate, the Envoys redoubled their efforts, and managed to defeat the Shimians, leaving them available to turn their attentions towards the cultist. He was quickly dispatched, but not before he was able to level his Death Curse.
Those close to you will die a terrible death, and you will all die alone and in agony.
With the Thaumaturge defeated, the Envoys turned their attentions to destroying the Shimian skulls.Even though the Shimians reappeared to attempt to defend their skulls, the group was ready for them and they were handily defeated. The Two shamans were destroyed and the city saved once again from creatures of the unknown.